Mandatory health cover a boost for medical tourism

Oman’s primary healthcare is one of the most respected in the region with free treatment provided to the national population.
Most private companies in the country offer free treatment to the expatriate workforce in various forms and also extend it to their families.
The government helps nationals avail of treatment abroad under challenging circumstances, which include not only bearing the cost of treatment, but also sponsoring the stay of patients and their nearest relatives during the course of the treatment.
In the Sultanate, Omanis are eligible for free treatment at public clinics and hospitals.
By law all expatriates are to be provided free treatment by their respective companies though it has not been mandatorily followed.
The mandatory health insurance for private sector employees will come into effect from January 2018.
“Such initiatives will encourage domestic medical tourism through more investment in the private health sector.
This will also help expatriates stay in Oman to undergo consultations in Oman.”
Thousands of Omanis have been travelling to countries such as India and Thailand, something which can be avoided through investment back home.
A couple of high-end international hospitals are expected to come up in Oman in the coming years.
As of 206, the Ministry of Health (MoH) is running 49 hospitals.
As per its report, the country is witnessing a shift in its health problems from communicable diseases to health problems related to changes in life style and changes in population structure manifested in non-communicable diseases.
There are now a total of 5,034 hospital beds in the public sector.
There are 19 private hospitals, 462 general clinics, 288 specialised clinics and polyclinics and 672 private pharmacies.
Insurance for Omanis employed in the private sector is important as it will take the load off the public healthcare.
“In all major primary clinics, people have to wait for appointments and very often they don’t get to meet the same doctor, though details are provided through the e-files system,” said Laila, an Omani PR executive.
Public healthcare is expensive but insurance for Omanis will encourage them to visit the private hospitals and clinics.
“The government hospitals in Oman have good experts but affordable private sector treatment and consultations will help patients explore options home rather than travelling abroad,” said Dr Ali, a senior public sector medical expert.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), making progress towards Universal Health Coverage (UHC) is a process for every country as they work to ensure that all people receive the health services they need without experiencing financial hardship.
Achieving UHC will require the health system to deliver effective and affordable services to prevent ill-health and provide health promotion, prevention, treatment, rehabilitation and palliative services.
Health system strengthening requires a coordinated approach involving improved health governance and financing to support the health workforce, and provide access to medicines and other health technologies, in order to ensure delivery of quality services at the community and individual levels.

Vinod Nair